Heroes Among Us


Chesterfield horse helps children with Autism, Down syndrome and other special needs

Posted at 1:41 PM, Mar 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-11 08:43:37-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- When you are the star of the show, primping is a must. After all, you’ve got to look your best for your guests. Five days a week, Jillian saddles up at a farm on River Road in southern Chesterfield County. This farm is a place where smiles abound and problems melt away. Thanks to the brown and white pony who connects with her pint-sized friends.

"She loves the children. She thinks of them as their babies. She has a high maternal instinct," Jillian’s caretaker, Victoria Bryant, said. "Everyone is drawn to her whether you be one-year-old or 50-years-old, they all gravitate to her."

Little ones, like Blake Bennett, find an escape through Jillian.

"Trying anything new is really hard because he is scared of it," Blake’s mother Heather said. "He is not anxious. He is not scared. He is not worried. He just feels free here."

The adorable four-year-old Midlothian boy lives with autism and anxiety. Journey of Hope 4 Autism welcomes children with special needs .

"I would do anything for these kids," Victoria said.

Bryant is the dedicated founder of the four-year-old non-profit. Grateful parents said Bryant's hour-long sessions help their children blossom.

Aiden Keatts’ mom said no medicine has been able to treat her son’s autism like the therapy he receives at Journey.

"It is really a special thing,"  MJ Keatts said. "There is no price you can put on watching him in this state."

Families can thank one four-legged therapist who helps reign in any problems you may have.

"It builds self-confidence. They should be able to take what they learn here and make it part of their life," Victoria said. “I love it. It warms my heart. I go home with the best feeling in the world."

Journey of Hope relies on donations and volunteers. If you would like to assist Victoria in her mission click here.

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Greg McQuade features local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email heroes@wtvr.com.